Cowslip: Bright, Bold Garden Color When You Need It Most

Cowslip: Bright, Bold Garden Color When You Need It Most


Photo Compliments of Caroline

Primula veris, cowslip, or English cowslip will brighten your spring garden with its multiple of golden yellow flowers highlighted with a smidgen of orange to reddish color at the base of each flower.

English Cowslip is a very hardy species of Primrose, bearing upright stems of nodding lemon-yellow flowers in mid-spring. Flowers are fragrant, making this an old favorite to gardeners. This plant will thrive in average to heavy soils and a partial shade exposure. It associates well with a wide range of spring flowering bulbs, as well as other rock garden species, especially blue Pulmonaria and Brunnera. It will tolerate full sun in cool summer regions.

Cowslip is one of the most striking native primula species, especially when it is grown in groups, and naturalized in grass. The fresh green rosettes of crinkly oval leaves are covered in velvety hairs, rolled inwards as the flower buds form in spring. Several flower stems are produced, each crowned by a one-sided cluster of long, funnel-shaped blooms, rich yellow and sweetly fragrant. Colored hybrids are available in shades of red and orange, but it is my opinion the simple yellow species is the most charming.

Cowslip primrose is considered the best primrose for southern gardens, because it is more tolerant of heat and humidity than other types of primroses. It looks beautiful lining a shady path, where the multitude of yellow, tubular flowers glow against the soft green, fuzzy leaves.

What Makes Your Cowslip Thrive

You will get the best results if you plant these primroses in light to open shade; choose an organically rich soil, although clay or sand would be fine as well as long as it is well-drained. Your cowslip will require regular watering during the dry season. If given the right conditions, these plants will self-sow creating a vivid multitude of flowers. Cowslip generally does not spread beyond into drier areas.

General Cowslip Information

Pests & Diseases

No significant issues, very robust.

Gardening Uses

Use in Alpine & rock borders, containers, use as a cut flower.

Quick Facts

  • Plant Type: Upright perennial
  • Foliage Type: Deciduous
  • Plant Height: 9 inches
  • Plant Spread: 12 inches
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 5 to 8
  • Flower Color: Yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • Water Requirements: Regular to occasional watering
  • Seasonal Interest: bright yellow flowers in spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • Soil Type: Tolerant of most soil types
  • Maintenance: Low maintenance
  • Bloom Color: Yellow
  • Bloom Time: Mid spring to late spring
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Plant Uses: Alpine & rock borders, containers, use as a cut flower
  • Attracts: bees
  • Resistant: Deer, rabbits

Photo Search

Google – Primula veris or Cowslip Photos
Flickr – Primula veris or Cowslip Photos

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  1. What a pretty flower, Charlie, and I just love that sunshine yellow color.
    Thank you for sharing the information for it here.
    Have a wonderful week!

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